These days, no one is hopping a flight on a whim just to satisfy their dining pleasure.
But there is one old-fashioned option that’s still in play, that can satisfy our yearning for travel, deliver a change of scene, and a little freedom in between: the road trip.
Courtesy of Mazda, we had a spanking new CX-5–their compact SUV–on hand for a test drive, its tank full. The model provided was a limited edition, just released in celebration of the brand’s 100th anniversary, its cockpit lined with supple red leather, and equipped with every imaginable electronic extra–from a windshield projected heads-up display to a 10-speaker Bose sound system. So, my wife and I did the obvious: hopped in and set the GPS for the nearest, highest-ranked restaurant.
A quick ride later we were pulling up at Langdon Hall. We were early enough for our lunch booking that we could take an explanatory stroll with head gardener Mario Muniz through the inn’s glorious vegetable gardens (fading to winter fast, but still bristling with late-fall harvest). Then we set out on a quick, brisk walk down some of their wooded trails (to prime our dog, Marlon, for his afternoon nap, and ourselves for 5-courses and fine Burgundy).
It was cold and windy out, so we were delighted to find our reserved table in the glorious salon, tucked in close to its baronial fireplace. Autumn’s inclement weather is not all bad news. For the gourmet, it signifies the arrival of white truffle season, and a quick check with the waiter revealed that chef Bangerter was in possession. So, venturing off the regular lunch menu we began with a luxe dish from the dinner menu featuring an artful presentation lightly cooked, firm sweet scallops with cauliflower and white truffle. Next one of us moved on to a blanquette of tender heritage chicken and tubers–adrift in a delicate, bay leaf infused cream sauce. The other, with an appetite piqued by the earlier tour of Langdon’s gardens, opted for a pressé of its vegetables, served in a fragrant mushroom and root vegetable consommé. Then, after a shared apple crumble, and over digestifs, we decided to stay on for dinner and spend the night, too.
The next morning, thoroughly refreshed, it was time to get behind the wheel again, and head for home.